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Batman Reboots and The New 52

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 20 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

At the time of writing this, I have not yet seen The Dark Knight Rises. Regardless of our hero’s ultimate fate, the fact remains that Batman will go on. If another character in Nolan’s movie carries on the mantle (Catwoman, JGL, etc), that works. More likely, we will see a reboot of the historic franchise in the coming years. How do you follow up such an iconic trilogy? I have three words: Court of Owls.

Another three words: Zombie Ninja Asassins. This is the Batman movie we need.

Comics fans are well aware of DC’s line wide reboot last year. Despite the overhaul, Batman was relatively unchanged. His continuity is mostly intact, but we still faced a new era for the character. Writer Scott Snyder’s epic Court of Owls story just wrapped up last week, and has easily been my favorite part of the New 52. The comic is classic Batman, executed to near perfection. It’s a dark detective tale with huge action scenes and a good deal of horror mixed in. Even though it’s somewhat grounded in reality (for a superhero book), the story still has aspects that would never fit into Nolan’s hyper realistic crime saga. This is a good thing, because imitating Nolan’s style would simply lead to disaster.

And not the explodey kind of disaster we all love to see.

Why else is this story perfect? By now, we’ve seen just about every major Batman villain on screen. Recycling those villains will inevitably become tired and only reinforces negative connotations about reboots. The audience needs something new, and the Court and their Talons are just that. More importantly, like any good Batman villain, they exist as a dark reflection of the Caped Crusader. Batman believes himself to know everything about Gotham. He’s a part of the city, with his family part of its very foundation. Could there be a part of Gotham even more integral that Batman, even older than the Wayne family itself? What dark secrets would such an entity hold, and who would they be? These mysteries are the heart of Snyder’s tale, and holy hell has it been fun. Seriously weird, disturbing, fantastic stuff. Batman also punches Robin in the face during the story, so you know it’s good stuff.

This approach even allows Batman to fit into a potential Justice League. Since we’ve moved away from the “no superpowers” arena, Bats can finally join his fellow heroes. Hopefully when the inevitable reboot arrives, Batman can enter a new world straight out of the comics.

And did you know Owls are the natural predators of Bats? And that they’re super creepy? Because Scott Snyder does, and he does a terrifying job of reminding me of this every issue.

Comic-Con Blitz: Marvel Movies

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 20 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

What the blue blazes? I go on vacation for one weekend and everything explodes. Where did all this news come from?

Oh. Right. That whole Comic-Con thing happened, didn’t it?

This means we have to storm our way through the myriad stories coming from the pop-culture Mecca that as SDCC. Jordan already discussed the Superman reboot, so let’s move on to an overview of Marvel’s movie announcements.

Iron Man 3

The cast is set, filming is underway, and Tony has some shiny new digs.

This is the Mark Running Out of Ideas So We Better Reverse the Color Scheme.

Some of the images have been…unflattering. Overall, the gold-centric design doesn’t have the same charm as the classic colors. Marvel gets a free pass on this one for now, since the Iron Man armor always looks significantly better on film.

While the footage of the movie has yet to be released online, there are some fun highlights. Tony’s armor, just like in Extremis, can now fly towards him. Nifty. We also know that Ben Kingsley is not just playing the Mandarin, he’s playing the Mandarin. With the crazy mystic outfit and everything. I was expecting them to seriously tone down the villain’s excessive nature and rely on Guy Pearce as the main antagonist, but the footage suggest that Tony’s arch-nemesis will be out in full force.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Oh my stars and garters. This is actually happening.

A GotG movie will be released before:

Wonder Woman, Flash, Dr. Strange, Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, Cable, and the damn Justice League.

Hollywood has some serious priority issues. Not that I care, because even though Guardians is a much more recent series (the new team is from ’08),  it will make for a fantastic movie. The Guardians are a unique mix of fun characters and essentially Marvel’s version of a space opera. I could go on and on about how excited I am for this movie, and I fully plan on doing just that. We’ll have articles on that later.

Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier

No real news, other than the titles. Interesting to see Marvel moving away from the numbered sequels. We’ll have more speculation soon.

Ant-Man

Having this scene in the next Avengers movie is enough justification for an Ant-Man movie.

Let’s be clear: we have no idea when this movie is coming out. It’s been in development for years, and the earliest we can expect a release will be 2015. For any other movie, I would be extremely doubtful that it ever gets made. Nevertheless, Edgar Wright has constantly kept our hopes up, and Marvel once again expressed their commitment to the project. Releasing test footage? That’s making a promise to the fans, and I doubt the company would make such a statement unless they were sure the movie was on their agenda.

My guess is that the movie will be released in 2015 alongside the Avengers 2. Considering Marvel will likely go with the same early May spot, this doesn’t leave much time for Hank Pym to join the team.

Summary: No footage has been released online, and most of these announcements are just sequels. Still, after the release of the Avengers, it’s hard not to be excited for Marvel’s future.

Comic Con Blitz: Deadpool Video Game

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 20 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

Although superheroes have been thriving in movies and television, spandex has never found a foothold in the video games. Why if it weren’t for Batman and Marvel Vs. Capcom, we would just have a string of lackluster titles. Announcements for new superhero games are few and far between, which makes the reveal of a Deadpool video game something worth noting.

Players get to use all of Deadpool’s amazing abilities to stage battles between his action figures!

If you play video games at all, chances are at least one of those featured the voicing talents of Nolan North. Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed have relied on the voice actor’s talents to create everyman type characters with an easy-going wit. Sure he’s overused a bit, but he always delivers good performances. Until this trailer that is.

Now what happens when he tries voicing a wacky, extreme, in-your-face character? I honestly think I need to hurt something. Drives me nuts. The artistic style and atmosphere of the game feel perfectly fine, but I swear I’ll be as crazy as Deadpool if I have to listen to another second of that trailer. Yeah, Wade is supposed to infuriate friends and enemies alike. That doesn’t mean he should actually annoy the viewer. Intentionally annoying is still annoying.

Want to know what makes for a good Deadpool? In the Wolverine movie, Ryan Reynolds was much closer to an enjoyable Deadpoolbefore he was actually Deadpool. He’s witty in a more subtle way and still manages to annoy every other character and appear legitimately disturbed. The important part is that he’s not trying to be edgy or loud. He’s just naturally weird. The trailer felt forced, as if the writers asked themselves what would shock someone. The wacky angle is fine (and close to the comics), but is horrendously executed.

Nolan North excels at voicing every-man characters, not buffoons.  The choice of voice actor is just downright painful.

One of the coolest parts about San Diego Comic-Con is getting the chance to interact with the big stars and celebrities in attendance. This usually done during panels where people can line up and ask questions about their favorite movies and comic series. If you’re lucky you can even run into one of these celebrities walking around, and if you’re really lucky their bodyguards won’t body slam you. Or, you could be a kid taking part in an Iron Man costume contest and have Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., walk out and join you on stage! College Humor has video of this epic event and Robert Downey Jr. channels his best Tony Stark and immediately announces himself as the winner of the costume contest. Classic Tony.

I think these kids should have been more excited to see Iron Man show up, but I’ll forgive them. They were obviously just starstruck. The kid dressed as War Machine, AKA wearing a War Machine mask and a dark colored hoodie, was my favorite. He was definitely the underdog, which was very clear when he walked past the bedazzled Iron Man. My favorite part about this whole video is how Robert Downey Jr. interacts with the kids. He really is the perfect Tony Stark, having no idea how to really talk to kids. He talks to them like grown ups and it is hilarious to me. Overall it looked like a great experience for the kids and everyone in attendance and further proved the RDJ is the man.

Possibly the only man in the world who can rock that goatee.

Unfortunately we here at Hero District were not able to make it out to the San Diego Comic-Con this year, but we have been following the news coming out of there pretty closely. Perhaps the most surprising bit of information to come out of SDCC this weekend is the fact that the upcoming Superman movie actually looks pretty good.

If you need a reminder about this Superman movie, I don’t blame you. It has gotten lost in the flood of other good superhero films like The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and the soon to be released The Dark Knight Rises. As a quick refresher, Warner Bros. has been working on a new Superman movie called “Man of Steel” that will star Henry Cavill as everybody’s favorite Kryptonian. Zack Snyder will be directing the movie and the cast includes some big names like Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, and Laurence Fishburne. SDCC had a panel on this new Superman movie and apparently people were actually pretty impressed. Here is the movie poster they premiered at SDCC:

A bulletproof man who wears chainmail.

The Man of Steel trailer was also premiered at SDCC and it had some good feedback from those who watched it. According to numerous twitter posts, the trailer had a darker tone than the previous incarnations of Superman. Many people were comparing the feel of the trailer to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. That seems like a bit of an extreme comparison, since those Batman movies are arguably the best comic book movies of all time. Trailers can be misleading though, so it is still hard to tell at this point.

Another interesting tidbit from the Man of Steel panel was a little hint dropped by Zack Snyder that Man of Steel might be the first step towards a Justice League movie. According to Hero Complex, Snyder was quoted as saying: “Superman is the jewel in the DC crown and really what we’re trying to do is get his house in order, and then who knows what’s possible.” A Justice League movie could be amazing, so if this Superman movie is working towards that, it is automatically a good thing. For now we will have to wait until the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises to get our first glimpse of Henry Cavill as Superman, as the trailer for Man of Steel will be premiering before we see Christian Bale don the cowl for the last time. Man of Steel release June 14th, 2013.

Can The Dark Knight Rises Top The Avengers?

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 14 - 20121 COMMENT

I don’t think I’m using a hyperbole when I say this is most likely the biggest summer for superhero movies yet, and probably will never be topped. In 2008, we were given two unbelievable adaptations, The Dark Knight and Iron Man, with both leaving us desperate for even greater pay offs. 2012 not only had the Avengers finally being unleashed together after years of build up, we also get the finale of the Dark Knight saga. I don’t think two movies have ever been so closely followed for such a long time. In fact, I don’t think we’ll ever something quite like this again. Marvel will continue to build its franchise and might make even grander movies, but there won’t be the same spectacle as finally seeing our heroes brought together for the first time. And I can’t imagine any superhero movie gaining quite as much momentum as Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. Now we ask the questions have been throwing around all year: who wins?

 

It’s hard to see this picture and imagine Batman losing anything.

In terms of which will be the better movie, that’s a separate debate. We can’t even attempt to answer that until TDKR his theaters, and even then they’ll be hard to compare. The Avengers is a fun movie anyone can enjoy and is possibly the truest “comic book” movie ever made. The Dark Knight Rises is a far darker, more realistic thriller. Young adults may end up loving TDKR more, but they’ll be hard pressed to convinced 10 year olds that “Hulk Smash” isn’t the coolest thing ever. What we can try and predict is which will be stronger at the box office

Look, Batman doesn’t need to beat the Avengers to be considered a winner. Anyone who considers becoming the third highest grossing movie of all time as the standard for success is seriously deluded. But if there is any one hero who could take on Earth’s Mightiest, it would be Bats. The first factor is target audience. The Dark Knight was particularly loved by younger adults and older kids: those who appreciate the edgier, grittier style of movie. On the other hand, every demographic went to go see the Avengers. Adults and kids alike both went to theaters in droves. And you know what the interesting thing about kids is? They will go see a movie over and over until their parents just can’t bear it anymore. I can’t even remember how many times I went to see the Pokemon movie, only that my mom still won’t forgive me for it. The Dark Knight Rises can’t attract those younger viewers, which might put it at a disadvantage.

Definitely not for the kiddies.

We also have to look at the international appeal. Much of the Avengers $1.45 billion haul came from overseas. The foreign market continues to grow larger and larger, and movies with flashy special effects have traditionally excelled here. The Avengers had plenty of big, fancy explosions, which are apparently the international language of awesome. Batman, however, has never been as big overseas as he has been in America. I would expect a higher proportion of the TDKR’s box office to come from the domestic run comparatively.

Of course, we also have to throw in 3D ticket prices. Although plenty of people saw it in regular old 2D, the higher ticket prices for that extra dimension gave the Avengers an edge. TDKR will have the extra IMAX screen in its favor, but this doesn’t compare to the bonus of 3D.

What does the Dark Knight Rises have in it’s favor? Massive levels of interest. The Dark Knight was nothing short of a phenomenon, and for months after the movie’s release we hounded over every scrap of news of a sequel. Even announcements over the movie’s title made headlines. No single Marvel movie was ever close to reaching the amount of fervor The Dark Knight reached.

Overall, who wins the day? If you had asked me even 6 months ago, I would have sworn Batman would make it bigger at the box office. Even a diehard fan like me couldn’t have predicted just how big the Avengers would be. Today? I don’t think Batman will top Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The movie will be huge, but $1.5 billion is just too much to ask. The wide demographic the Avengers reaches and the 3D boost put it over the top.

Even if Batman doesn’t win the battle at the box office, I damn well expect him to produce at the Academy Awards. If this finale doesn’t win after the snubbing back in 2008, no superhero movie ever will.

Thor Recruits a New Fandral

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 12 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

Well this is an amusing turn of events. For the first Thor movie, Zachary Levi was cast as Fandral the Dashing until he dropped out due to commitments on his TV show. Stuart Townsend was then picked up, before he was kicked out over “creative differences”. Joshua Dallas ended up with the part, and did a fine job as the Asgardian warrior. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when Dallas opted out of Thor 2 to work on HIS own show. Which brings us to today, with Zachary Levi announcing that he would be reclaiming the role of Fandral.

His chin needs more hair coverage first.

Joshua Dallas did solid work. It wasn’t a big role and he didn’t exactly steal scenes in the way Idris Elba did as Heimdall. Dallas is the first actor to be recast who didn’t appear in one of Marvel’s 2008 movies (before they started locking up actors for life). Overall, Dallas was replaceable and surely there are other actors who can do a good Errol Flynn impression. Hopefully Levi is one of them. This is going to sound weird, but his voice work on “Tangled” leaves me surprisingly optimistic.

With Comic Con on the horizon, can we expect more announcements from Marvel? They had a limited showing last year, and the year before was defined by bringing out all the Avengers. If they want to capitalize on the success of the team, they better produce something big. In addition to their confirmed Iron Man 3 panel, I demand the announcement for Guardians of the Galaxy and casting news for Thor 2! Maybe bring out the rumored inclusion of Mads Mikkelsen?

The Lizard That Could Have Been

Posted by Jordan On July - 9 - 20121 COMMENT

The biggest complaint I have heard about The Amazing Spider-Man since its release has been that the Lizard just didn’t look right. Some felt that he just didn’t fit in with the feel of the rest of the movie, while others just didn’t like how he was rendered in general. I didn’t really mind the look too much, it didn’t take away from my moviegoing experience, but according to MTV’s Splash Page the Lizard could have looked a lot cooler.

What a lame looking lizard-man.

MTV’s Splash Page recently released some concept art of how the Lizard looked before the design seen in the movie was finally chosen. Two of the three designs seem to be improvements over what we saw, but let’s get the bad one out of the way first.

I feel like this design is better suited for SyFy Original Movies.

Yeah, that Lizard totally looks like The Incredible Hulk’s version of the Abomination went on a diet and grew a tail. I wasn’t a fan of Abomination in that movie, and I wouldn’t have been a fan of his miniature clone in The Amazing Spider-Man. I for one am pretty glad that this design was passed over.

This is the Lizard we should have gotten.

This version of Lizard is awesome. I really wish they would have gone with this design, as it feels more lizard-like then the bulkier version they used. The scale pattern is also a lot more interesting and draws more attention to the character than the fairly nondescript look the movie version got. Overall, this is just a superior design. They should have thrown a lab coat on that sucker and called it a wrap.

The thousand yard stare of a man who has walked New York’s sewers.

Again, it is the scale pattern here that makes the Lizard stand out. The shape of the face is also slightly different and feels more reptilian than what we ended up with. I think the biggest problem with the final Lizard design was they couldn’t find a good balance between a human and lizard face. This design here fits that balance perfectly. There is a human look in the eyes, but I expect a forked tongue to pop out and catch a fly at any second.

What do you think of these concept designs and the final version of the Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man? Let us know in the comments!

Green Lantern’s Next Crossover

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 8 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

October will be a big month for DC. With most titles finishing their first year of storylines and getting issue #0s in September, we’ll now see the next phase of big storylines. One of those big storylines is a Green Lantern crossover featuring the Guardians’ long rumored “Third Army” (Manhunters being the first, and Lanterns the second). It seems the Guardians have finally gone too far, even for them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the story ends with some of our favorite Lanterns now in charge of galactic security.

The important thing is that Larfleeze will be there.

Hopefully this event will be fun. The Green Lantern mythos has always been an exceptional source of stories that are epic in scope. Blackest Night had a ridiculous amount of build up before finally spreading to the entire DCU, and I think the Sinestro Corps. War might just be the best crossover of the past decade. Then again, the Green Lantern franchise has lost some of its magic and “War of the Green Lanterns” was a complete and utter waste. Hopefully this latest story doesn’t fall into the same rut.

Worries aside, the story should provide fans with plenty of revelations and answer some big questions, like the identity of the First Lantern. Even though you’ll get answers, Green Lantern crossovers have a tricky habit of raising even more. Guess that means we have to keep on reading.

Evaluating Marvel NOW

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 8 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

AVX has yet to hit the half way mark, but we already have snippets of what the future holds. No, it’s not a feared reboot, but a big shake up called Marvel NOW. Featuring brand new team, line ups and stories, this aims to change the direction and status quo of the Marvel U. So what does this include?

The Series

New line-ups and creative teams always pop after events, not just in overhauls like these. Fortunately, I like the new talent involved. Brian Michael Bendis has just been on the Avengers franchise for too long, and on the whole his work has stagnated. I’m thrilled to see Jonathan Hickman come on board after his stellar runs on the Fantastic Four and Secret Warriors. His work looks to draw on the bulk of the Avengers franchise, so I’m expecting stories that boast grand concepts and sense of scale.

More interesting is the addition of Rick Remender on a book titled Uncanny Avengers, a hybrid Avengers/X-Men team. Rick Remender has delivered time and time again on Uncanny X-Force and Venom, and has a knack for making inspired team rosters. Finally, we have the unconfirmed inclusion of Mark Waid on Avengers Assemble, which is the most excited I’ve ever been for a title. This pairing is the equivalent of putting Geoff Johns on Justice League. Mark Waid just understands comics, and this has a decent shot of being the best Avengers book in years. If it’s half as good as Daredevil, consider that a guarantee.

We also have Bendis on a book with the original X-Men. I need a break from the writer and the premise of seeing the original X-Men time travelling to the present Marvel U feels weak.

The Costumes

I’ve never understood the point of Hulk wearing armor.

I won’t pass full judgment on this just yet, because I think Joe Quesada did a fairly poor job here. Some of them have potential to look better when done well (Captain America), while others look ridiculous. I’m looking right at you, Cyclops. XD. Nothing here looks particularly inspired, and do you see any of these looks lasting more than a single story arc? I’m not saying everything before was perfect and should never be touched up, just that most of those costumes were very good and these seem forgettable.

I can’t help compare this to DC’s big shakeup and Jim Lee’s Justice League. Those costumes were fresh, dynamic, but still kept the spirit of the old looks fully intact. To be fair though, they were drawn by Jim Lee, and that man is just ridiculously talented.

This isn’t even a good Jim Lee drawing and it is still awesome.

The Digital Initiative

Love it or hate it, digital comics are the future of the industry. That makes it satisfying to see Marvel trying a bit harder to make their digital product more. By offering free digital versions of comics to those who buy the printed copies, maybe this can encourage more people to give it a shot. It’s a minor extension of their current plan, but it’s still something?

Overall, this is a relatively small shake-up despite it’s advertisements that is mostly a creative reshuffeling. Which is perfectly fine by me. That reshuffling looks to give talented writers more responsibilities, and Marvel isn’t in need of a full reboot. Now all they need to do is fix some of these ridiculous costume changes and we’ll be set.

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